I am sitting at my desk in the office in our back garden, ready to start my new full-time role. I know I should be happy. It has been nearly seven years since I last worked in a full-time position, and I have been praying and wishing for exactly this moment to come. Yet, although I am grateful and excited about this new opportunity, I cannot shrug off the feelings of sadness and regret that suddenly overcome me.
From my desk I can see my children in the kitchen, all dressed for school. They squish their little faces against the glass door, trying to catch a glimpse of me and wondering why mummy is not taking them to school today. I am attempting to hide behind my laptop screen, while I wipe away the tears that won't stop flowing. A season has come to an end.
When I became a mum almost eight years ago, I could not bear the thought of leaving my infant son in full-time childcare. 'Mum guilt' kicked in, and I reduced my working hours. Following the birth of my second child, I returned to work for a brief period, handing in my notice only a few months later because I wanted to focus on my family.
Although my decision to take a career break was a conscious choice, I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I felt I had lost my identity. When I asked my children a few years ago what my job was, they replied: "Mummy is a babysitter." Their comment was innocent and made complete sense in the capacity that they had seen me in, but I felt hurt. My ego was also bruised when people immediately assumed that I was a stay-at-home mum because I had kids. No one talked about my two university degrees or my previous professional achievements. I was "only" a mum.
This was a particularly hard pill for me to swallow as I was raised by a single mum who had always emphasised how important financial independence was. "Don't be dependent on a man," she used to preach and still does today! She had to learn the hard way. My dad passed away less than a year after I was born, and although still grieving his loss, she had to find work soon after his passing to ensure that she could provide for me.
My mother was terrified when she learnt that I had left a lucrative job to spend more time with my children. It was only after I took on a part-time role at my church that she relaxed a bit. However, I had to constantly reassure her that I would return to work on a full-time basis when my kids were older.
Even though my time off work and the ability to work part-time allowed me to spend more time with my family, I was so busy envying the professional successes of peers and former schoolmates. In fact, I was so obsessed with getting back on the career ladder that I did not make the most out of the time I had with my children.
Now, as I embark on a new professional journey, I can see that I failed to cherish the present. While I was frustrated and asked God to open new doors, I was precisely in the season I was supposed to be in. It was my season to rest, trust in God's perfect timing, and simply be there for my children.
For years, I have been living in the future, dreaming about a career that sounded impressive, instead of living in the now. God reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3:1, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens."
As I step into this new season, I am grateful to God for the years that I was able to be "just" a mum, without rushing around to meet work commitments. God has now blessed me with a role that allows me to do what I love while working flexible hours. I am learning to live in the now, not worry about the future, and trust God that I am in this season for a reason because He knows best.